College enrollment dips in Georgia, report shows

SWAINSBORO, GA - MARCH 28, 2022: Two East Georgia State College students walk out of the student center. One a cool and sunny Monday afternoon the sidewalks on campus are mostly void of students or activities since the collegeÕs enrollment numbers are down. (AJC Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution

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SWAINSBORO, GA - MARCH 28, 2022: Two East Georgia State College students walk out of the student center. One a cool and sunny Monday afternoon the sidewalks on campus are mostly void of students or activities since the collegeÕs enrollment numbers are down. (AJC Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton for The Atlanta Journal Constitution

The number of undergraduate college students in Georgia declined slightly this spring, according to a new report.

There were nearly 467,000 students in the state’s public and private colleges and universities during the spring semester, a 1.4% decline from last year, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center said in a report released Thursday.

Enrollment declined nationwide by more than 662,000 students, or 4.7%, from spring 2021, according to the report.

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“College enrollment declines appear to be worsening,” said Doug Shapiro, the center’s executive director. “Although there may be some signs of a nascent recovery, particularly in a slight increase of first-year students, the numbers are small, and it remains to be seen whether they will translate into a larger freshman recovery in the coming fall.”

In Georgia, the largest decrease was at two-year public colleges, where enrollment declined by more than 13% to about 103,000 students, the report found. Several University System of Georgia schools that focus on offering two-year associate degrees have seen enrollment drops in recent years. While enrollment dropped by less than 1% systemwide, the decline was more than 7% in its two-year state colleges, according to University System data.

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Administrators at many of the schools say the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the problem by making it tougher to recruit prospective students. Undergraduate enrollment has dropped nationwide by nearly 1.4 million students, or 9.4%, during the pandemic, the report showed.

The report showed larger declines among women, Black first-year students and students who are 24 and older. There were enrollment increases among first-year Asian and Latino students.